Today I Am . . .

by Katy on July 14, 2015 · 32 comments

bethesdafountain

Today I am . . . 

  • Arranging a get together with my friend Pam for Thursday.
  • Very appreciative that my friend Jeff from college is lending us his Whitney Museum workplace passes.
  • Excited to walk the Highline, poke through the Whitney and then have lunch with my friend Pam!
  • Starting to plan out my sister’s garage sale this Saturday at her house on City Island.
  • Pleased that I’ve been able to remotely run my Craigslist resell bidness from afar. So far I’ve sold eight women’s soccer tickets, one curb-picked duvet cover and a horrifically scratchy kilim throw pillow that always gave me the heebie-jeebbies. Not too shabby to bring in $105 of bonus cash while vacationing 3,000 miles away! (I simply tell my husband to put particular items on our covered porch, and then buyers put money in our locked mailbox.)
  • Mailing out the too-narrow Birkenstocks that I bought on eBay. Katy so sad . . .

Making a decision about the when and where of the Non-Consumer Advocate reader meetup. You can bring food or not. Please don’t feel you need to make or bring anything special whatsoever.

Where: Bethesda Fountain in Central Park

When: Friday, July 17 at 6 P.M.

Why: Stare at me. Meet fellow NYC non-consumers!

  • Trying to get teenagers out of bed so we can go to The Bronx Zoo this afternoon.
  • Driving to Trader Joe’s in Larchmont to replace the large bag of groceries that my sister left behind the other day. (My sister called ahead and prearranged everything.)
  • Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 13, 2015 · 34 comments

Yankee Stadium

  1. My son and I went to a New York City Football Club (NYCFC) soccer game today at Yankee Stadium. We brought our own reusable water bottle which we filled repeatedly at their water fountain. I was very proud that I’d remembered to do this, since bottled water was being sold for $5 a pop!
  2. We took public transportation all day, which included five subways and two buses. I was able to use my brother-in-law’s unlimited fare MetroCard, while my son used a card I’d loaded with $20.
  3. We bought hot greasy slices of pizza for dinner, which added up to a budget-friendly $12.50.
  4. Instead of buying expensive movie theater candy or even cheap drug store candy for yesterday’s movie, I simply bought no candy.
  5. In exchange for being such a lengthy houseguest, I’m working to make myself a useful human. Laundry, dishes and general cleaning are well within my skill set, and certainly help with a household of six people. Staying in NYC for two weeks would be insanely expensive, so I really appreciate my sister’s hospitality. (We joke that I’m the homely au pair chosen by the jealous wife.)

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Cheap, Cheap, Cheap, Expensive

by Katy on July 11, 2015 · 19 comments

Brooklyn Museum

When traveling, it’s important to keep a close eye on expenses. Admission prices, meals and transportation can add up faster than an uptown subway train.

Luckily, I am above average when it comes to keeping an eye on my money. But even I, The Non-Consumer Advocate can slip up now and then. Take today as an example.

Our plan had been to take the kids to the Brooklyn Art Museum for the Rise of Sneaker Culture exhibit. Traveling all the way from City Island is a bit of a schlep, so we made sure to feed everyone before leaving home.

Or so we thought.

My son started asking at 2 P.M. if we were going to grab food before the museum, and then casually mentioned that all he’d eaten were two peaches. I opened my trusty Yelp app to locate some cheap pizza and marched my group over a block-and-a-half to a restaurant that appeared long shuttered. I was up for hunting down another cheap slice, but crankiness was rising so we walked over to a Caribbean takeout window and ordered jerk chicken, rice and beans and a curried chicken patty. Not too expensive at $8, but I thought we’d already eaten.

The museum itself was a “suggested donation” admission, so that helped to keep things under control.

My nephew really, really wanted for everyone to see the Pixar movie Inside Out together, so we met up at a theater on The Upper East Side. I rarely splurge on a first run movie, and I certainly never see them in Manhattan, so the $14 price tag hit me hard. The movie was pretty good, although I could have taken it or left it. (I would have been happy to wait to rent it from my local Redbox.)

We did end up with a few minutes before the movie to grab slices of pizza, which was budget-worthy at $5 for the two of us.

Tomorrow my son and I will go to a New York City Football Club soccer game at Yankee Stadium, which will set us back $30 per ticket, although this was a very deliberate and thought out expense. My son, as you know, is soccer obsessed. So this match will be a highlight of his trip.

Of course we’re spending zero dollars on souvenirs or inflated touristy spending opportunities. So no Broadway plays, no horse drawn carriage rides and certainly no foam Statue of Liberty crowns.

The key to frugal travel, just like the key to regular frugal living is to keep big expenses in check, and to save splurges for the things that really matter. Something memorable with bang for the buck. Soccer game, yes. Movie, no.

Be cheap with what doesn’t matter so your money is available for the things that do.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Life in New York City is nothing but glamor and celebrities. Or . . . helping my sister with her daily routine and squeezing in a few touristy moments. Like how she needed to take her elderly dog to the veterinarian’s office, which just happened to be a few blocks from Central Park.

Central Park

We overheard a tour guide saying that this fountain is in the exact geographic center of Manhattan. It might be true, it might not. Either way we took a photo with Maggie the dog.

photo 3

This is a stoop to an otherwise unmemorable store that caught my eye. Clever use of old and otherwise useless keys.

Key stoop

While we were gone, my ten-year-old niece decided to surprise us with a pancake lunch. Apparently she quadrupled the recipe!

Pancakes

I do love this old Keith Haring “Crack is Wack” mural along the Harlem River Drive.

Keith Haring

Late afternoon called for a sail on the Long Island Sound in my brother-in-law’s sailboat. It was a first for my 17-year-old son, and he took to it like a pro.

Sailing

I do enjoy how all the manhole covers are personalized for my visit. (WSNY = Wolk-Stanley New York.) That’s very welcoming. Thank you, New York!

Wolk-Stanley New York

New York City has a reputation for being unbearably expensive, but people watching and strolling through Central Park cost nothing whatsoever. (I walked past Arianna Huffington, and considered introducing myself since I do blog for her, but she was pretty far away by the time I worked up my nerve.)

And the cost for today’s fancy touristy activities? Being willing to take a freaked out dog to the vet for a blood draw.

Poor old Maggie . . .

I would like to arrange for a Non-Consumer Advocate blog reader meetup while I’m in NYC. But I think it would work best if there was some type of activity involved. (Can’t just have us all standing around akwardly with nothing to do!) I’m kind of stumped, but do want to make this happen. Maybe one of the suggested donation museums? (The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art or Museum of Natural History?) or perhaps something completely different? I’m completely up for suggestions.

Also, would it be better to do it during the day or evening, weekday or weekend?

Please weigh in with your ideas and opinions. I want to hear if this is something you’d be interested in.

Thanks!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 9, 2015 · 17 comments

  1. My NYC vacation has been mostly low key so far, with today’s highlight’s including taking my sister’s puppy to The Northshore Animal League on Long Island, taking my nephew to his track practice and walking the dogs around City Island. Luckily, the company is exceptional and there are next to no shopping temptations. (I did sneak in a walk around Washington Heights featuring a tasty falafel and a café con leche with “solo un poquito de azucar.”
  2. I’ve found 44¢ on the ground so far on my trip, which will be added to my found change challenge jar.
  3. Our plans for tomorrow include cheering for the U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer team at their ticker tape parade, taking my sister’s other dog to the vet and sailing on the Long Island Sound in my brother-in-law’s boat.
  4. We did a big grocery shopping trip to Trader Joe’s instead of eating out.
  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet. You know . . . because of New York City’s sales tax.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Win One of Two Books From Lark!

by Katy on July 8, 2015 · 118 comments

Update: This giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Marie and Patricia, and thank you to everyone who took the time to enter.

Ivan and books

Today is a very exciting day, because you have the opportunity to win one of two great crafting books from Lark Books!

The first is The Big Book of Mod-Podge: Decoupage Made Easy from Plaid Enterprises. Now you already know that I love Mod-Podge, and have used it for various projects, like this drawer organizer:

Drawer-Organizer

And this Manga chair:

Manga chair

The second book is Craft Camp: Over 40 Fun Projects for Kids. I brought this book with me to NYC, and my ten-year-old niece and I are already poring through the book to choose some fun activities to do while I’m here.

I will randomly choose one winner for each of the books. To enter to win, write your name in the comments section below.

Good luck!

I will randomly choose the winners Friday, July 10th at 9 P.M. EST.

P.S. Puppy not included.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Today I am . . . 

  • Happy to have brought our own meals while flying from Portland, Oregon to NYC.
  • Moved by my library copy  of Beverly Cleary’s On My Own Two Feet, which came in just in time for airplane reading.
  • Proud of my son who quietly read his library book while flying amongst passengers who stared at their digital devices.
  • Really, really hoping that my eBay Birkenstocks get mailed to my sister house by the end of the week, as I only brought a single pair of shoes with me.
  • Super duper bummed to that the thunderstorms between Dulles and Laguardia airports cancelled my already-on-the-tarmac flight and stranded my son and I at the airport until our 6 A.M. flight.
  • Pleased that we’re flying into JFK instead of Laguardia, as it makes it possible to take the subway close enough to my sister’s house for her to come pick us up. I had resigned myself to the cost of a $40 cab ride, so this will work better. (Although by the time we land, I may collapse into a cab.)
  • Relieved that we chose to not check any luggage. It pays to have minimalist tendencies, as all the passengers who’d checked their luggage were freaking out.
  • Bringing review copies of books and a fancy-but-from-Goodwill American Girl nightstand as gifts to my ten-year-old niece. (And bringing my son as a gift to my fifteen-year-old nephew.)
  • Already tired, but with four hours to go until our morning flight.

Update: We finally flew out at 6 A.M. and I put my sorry tuchus into a taxi and blew $73 on a cab including the tip. My Birkenstocks came today and sadly were the narrow footbed instead of the described mediums. We didn’t sleep at all, and I think I might be a hummingbird at this point. (<— Apu reference.) Tomorrow is a new day.

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Found dollar bill

We’ve been on a mini-staycation the past few days, which is extremely frugal. (Especially when your mother owns a vacation rental cottage!) However, the vacation mindset is hard to avoid, even when a certain supposedly frugal someone is a mere fifteen minutes from home. It’s very easy to spend a little here and a little there, which can add up to a number that’s not so little.

So here are my Five Frugal Staycation things:

  1. My son and I walked across the street (across the street!) to the library. (Staying in town means our library cards work for thousands of magical reading options.) I pulled Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen, from the shelf which turned out to be an amazing read for anyone who’s ever obsessed about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House books. So you know, most female humans . . .
  2. I was 99.3% tempted to treat the family to a restaurant dinner. “After all . . . it is the 4th of July” said the devil on my left shoulder. Luckily, boring and responsible right shoulder angel popped a pan of already prepped baked ziti into the oven. It was decent and filling and saved us at least fifty bucks. Plus, the guys got dinner made for them, which is a treat any day of the week. Seriously, folks.
  3. My son didn’t like the blanket he’d slept under last night, so we drove home and picked up his regular one. Not only was I able to check on our cats, but it gave me a chance to give the plants a deep soak on this 99º day. I also used my teeny-tiny screwdriver kit to fix my $1 reading glasses.
  4. We walked to my mother’s house to watch the Oaks Park fireworks. I found a one-dollar bill on the ground, which wouldn’t have happened had we driven.
  5. I bought a brand new pair of Birkenstocks on eBay. At this point you’re scratching your head and wondering how this fits in as a “frugal thing.” Here’s how — my sandals broke in May, and I’d been making do with a pair of too fancy (and ancient) Danskos ever since. I’d been actively keeping an eye out at thrift and consignment shops for ages without any luck. I could have easily bought a pair of cheap low quality sandals, even a pair of $1 flip flops, but I don’t want to buy low quality goods manufactured in a sketchy foreign factories. At all! By choosing a higher quality item, I expect that with good care I’ll now have a pair of sandals that should last me the next ten years. So . . . it’s cheaper (and more responsible in the long run) to buy a few high quality items than it is to buy mountains of low quality cheap stuff. Sometimes more expensive = more frugal option.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Today I Am . . .

by Katy on July 3, 2015 · 22 comments

Today I am . . . 

  • Selling a rug on Craigslist. It’s from my younger son’s room, and was replaced by one I pulled from a garbage can and shampooed back to health. I originally paid $10 at Goodwill, and I’m now selling it for $15. By only buying used, my family’s household goods appreciate instead of going down in value.
  • Starting a three day staycation by staying in one of my mother’s guest cottages across town. Not only will this cost me nothing whatsoever, but we’ll get all the relaxing benefits of a mini-vacation without the stress and worry of packing correctly and leaving the house unattended.
  • Happy that I put the effort into throwing a few heat-and-eat meals into the freezer for my husband and younger son. My younger son and I will be in NYC for two weeks, and the hubby and older son both work full time and odd hours. This way they can eat regular meals that aren’t served at 10 P.M. I hope they don’t get too sick of baked ziti and enchiladas!
  • Taking the laundry off the clothesline that stayed up overnight. Portland’s weather has been crazy hot and dry this summer. Good for laundry, bad in the long run.
  • Pleased to have two more Ikea meal voucher coupons from the back of last night’s Timber’s reserve soccer tickets.
  • Off to run errands.

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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Five Frugal Things

by Katy on July 2, 2015 · 43 comments

Ikea lunch date

  1. I worked the past two days and brought my own breakfast and lunch both days. I drank the mediocre coffee instead of walking down to one of the hospital cafes, and drove my Prius both ways while listening to Dave Ramsey Podcasts.
  2. I treated my younger son to lunch at Ikea using the free meal vouchers from the backs of our Timbers soccer tickets. We used our Ikea Family cards to get free coffee, and I brought my reusable mason jar sippy cup to concoct my own iced coffee to go. A lovely mom-son date without spending any money. (Okay . . .  for pure transparency, I did spend exactly a dollar as the salmon lunch cost more than the coupon allowed for.)
  3. My son and I will be leaving for New York City on Monday for a two-week visit. We’ll pack our own airplane meals and snacks and be staying with my sister who lives on City Island, off of The Bronx. Sadly, the subway does not go to her house, so we’ll have to take a cab from Laguardia. However, I know this is a set cost and have budgeted for it. (I’m having a hard time accepting this ridiculous expense, and am still concocting alternate transportation plans. Take the bus from Laguardia into the city and have my sister meet us there?)
  4. Portland weather has been unseasonably warm all summer, and it’s been weeks since I’ve used our electric dryer.
  5. I’ve deliberately held off on picking up two library hold books because I want to read them during our vacation, and don’t want them to come due while we’re out of town. Especially since I know that my sister will want to read the Judy Blume one once I’m done with it!

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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